by Anthony Kaufman
Abel Ferrara says just about everything that's on his mind. After
the LAIFF's American premiere of Ferrara's brilliant, burlesque "The
Blackout" on Friday night -- which follows the self-destructive path
of a famous actor (Matthew Modine), struggling with addiction and
memory -- Ferrara, complete with vampiric black hat, staggered
down the aisle for a post-screening Q & A that was as frank and
lively as his film. Too modest or just obsessively restless to stand
on stage at the mike, Ferrara fielded questions stand-up comic style
from the audience, yielding steady chuckles from the audience.
Festival Founder and Director Robert Faust, whom Ferrara compared
to a used car salesman, attempted to moderate.Matthew Modine's
performance of the alcoholic, coke-addicted star startled the audience
with its vigor and veracity. Asked by an audience member how he
prepped for the part, Modine jokingly responded, "I just hung out
with Abel for a few weeks." He soon admitted, "We did a lot of
rehearsals before we started filming, we talked a lot about it."
Also starring in the film is a manic Dennis Hopper (think of his
"Blue Velvet" character) who owns a video-porn fantasy palace,
and is intent on remaking the French classic "Nana" into "Nana
Miami." Both actors worked in "an atmosphere of total chaos"
Hopper recently stated. The Q & A felt quite the same, as Ferrara
threw away lines like "I haven't slept in 11 years" while pacing
When asked why his film remains without U.S. distribution,
Ferrara listed the unfortunate buy outs of October and New Line,
as one reason no continental distribs sought out the film when
it played at Cannes last year. Trimark apparently showed some
interest, but Ferrara claims, "they spend a tremendous amount
of money to bury a film." Concluding his dealings with Trimark,
Ferrara told the audience, "So I said, Why don't you guys just go
fuck yourselves." As an alternative to looking for distributors, he
thought, "Why don't I buy it?' And two months later," he said, "I
raised about 11 and a half dollars."
For whatever reason, it looks as if Ferrara's stunningly shot and
smartly crafted, visceral new feature may be passed up by the
major indie distributors. "The film is not going anywhere," Ferrara
said, in a brief revealing moment that hushed the giggling
audience. "I really wish it was out in the States."